"'However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?"'" NIV translation
Stephen now explains to the Sanhedrin that God does not live in houses. He quotes Isaiah in trying to get them to see that God does not need us to build Him a temple. We too at times can get to thinking that God needs us to accomplish His will. Really, it is not that God needs us to do things it is that He gives us the opportunity to do things out of Love for our Savior and our God.
"'You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him- you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.'" NIV translation
Now, Stephen turns from his recalling Jewish history to the situation at hand. He recounts the fact that their forefathers had persecuted those who foresaw the coming of Jesus.
Then, he reminds them that they even had Jesus crucified even though he did nothing wrong. By doing so, they violated the law that they held so dearly.
"When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus receive my spirit.' Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep." NIV translation
Now, it gets down to the problem and the Sanhedrin is furious at Stephen. Stephen told them of how he saw heaven open up and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This infuriated the religious leaders so much that they took him out and stoned him to death. A young man named Saul was there giving approval for the action. This same Saul would soon meet Jesus and be changed but for now he was still one of the biggest persecutors of Christians. Even while he was being stoned, Stephen asked the Lord to forgive the people that were doing it. This passage, though it seems to be full of defeat, contains a lot of inspiration for us, as Christians. First of all, Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He is there in the position of power interceding on behalf of us with God. Secondly, we see forgiveness. Just as Jesus did on the cross, Stephen asks for forgiveness for those that were killing him. We too are called to have that same attitude. From the smallest of offenses even unto death we are called to forgive those who wrong us.